Friday, June 18, 2010

Discover how Figaro started: Passion is the Key to the Success of any business

By Katherine Verances Marfal

In November of 1993, seven friends who shared a common love for coffee started the Figaro Coffee Company. The idea took root from their passion to experiment, brew, taste, and share their joys of sipping a good cup of coffee with the rest of the world.

They put up a small kiosk that served the public good quality coffee blends. The concept on how the store would operate was culled from their travel experiences abroad, especially in Europe. At the start, they themselves manned their small shop in a mall in Manila.

Fortunately, there are some business principles that they employed right from the start; and these are:

  • High quality and personalized service;
  • Superb coffee mixes and pastries;
  • Useful tips to customers on how to brew and mix good coffee drinks at home.
These business principles produced loyal and devout customers from a discriminating clientele.

They also made the ambiance of their stores small, compact, cosy and relaxing- ideal for zipping and savoring the exquisite taste of their coffee.

They noticed that most of their costumers are coffee lovers and connoisseurs that usually belong to the moneyed class. These are businessmen, tourists, politicians, and others, who have extra money to spend on some luxuries – like on somewhat expensive coffee drinks. Thus, Figaro’s operation was tracked into catering to these kinds of customers. Figaro management and employees are aware that high quality coffee mixes and superb services must be given to these kinds of customers.

At first, they were apprehensive that there were no sufficient numbers of this kind of regulars that are available to make their operation economically viable. And also, considering that there are many other establishments similar to Figaro, who have the same line of operation approach further reinforced their fears. But their love of coffee, and their love for what they are doing pushed them through over their initial business obstacles. To their pleasant surprise, there are plenty of people who like coffee, and who have extra money to spend on this.

From a small kiosk in Manila, the Figaro Coffee Company has now 50 stores all – not only all over the Philippines - but in different parts of Asia.

But due to the recent economic crunch, a flat growth in their quarterly sales was noticed. Thus, the Figaro management and employees had to make some adjustments in their business thrusts. They began to offer meals that are affordable to those in the lower economic class bracket. Though this is not a sure fire way to solve their prevailing economic woes; their resolve to survive is very strong because of their passion on what they are doing, and this is blending quality coffee.

Miss Kathryn Joi Robles, heir of the Sta. Lucia Real Estate business empire, is also Figaro Magsaysay’s Managing Director, and she has these to say about the operation of their coffee stores:

  • All those who are involved in store operation must be interested and are enjoying what they are doing.
  • Employees are carefully selected and given sufficient trainings before they are given assignment in the stores.
  • Sufficient incentives and understanding must be given to the rank and file employees by the management.

(Photos by: Katherine V. Marfal)

And to conclude and to emphasize, it is important for any one who will start a business for him to love what he will be doing during its operation. This will tide him over some problems that he will encounter, and push him to persevere towards attaining his business goals.

(Katherine Verances Marfal is a freelance writer. Among the publications she writes for are the Manila Bulletin, Sports Digest, Panorama and Pilipino Star Ngayon. She is also a Web Content Writer and teaches Pre-school at Philippine Normal University).

(Other photo sources: Facebook page of Figaro Coffee Company)

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